Vegan Weight Loss

Weight-ScaleSome people want to lose weight, so they become vegan. Weight loss is possible. When Jane and I started on our vegan journey, we both effortlessly lost weight. I dropped twenty pounds in 5 months, and she lost 11. These numbers may not be staggering, but we didn't do anything else. We simply went from eating a slightly healthier than average American diet, to a vegan diet. No calorie-counting, no increase in exercise (although we really need to work on that). Not bad for no effort. We'd probably still be losing a bit of weight if Jane wasn't finding new and incredible vegan desserts to make like the vegan danish we had this past weekend.

While Jane was poking around on the internet today, she ran across a post entitled, "Lose Weight While Spending Less on Food and Exercise." She shared it with me and I thought, who doesn't want that? So I figured I'd blog about it too.

The author writes that we should:

  • Eschew diet pills / diet drinks -- Jane and I always laugh at those commercials. If you read the fine print, it always says "Combined with a healthy diet and exercise program, (insert product name here) will help you to lose weight." Hmmm, won't the diet and exercise do that without the pills?
  • Buy only what you will eat -- So, I guess this means no more beets for us! (I confessed yesterday, that we keep buying beets, but Jane can't bring herself to prepare them, so they usually wind up in the compost bin after a tour of our refrigerator.)
  • Eat your heaviest meal in the morning and your lightest at night. -- Tough to do since most of us prepare or go out and eat a hearty dinner.
  • Eat smaller portions -- In other words, don't supersize me.
  • Chew slowly and carefully -- When I was a child, my mom and I used to watch The Bob Newhart Show. There was one episode where he was talking about chewing food. I don't know why this is still stuck in my head (especially since I probably couldn't tell you anything about any other episode), but here goes... "32 chews keeps your tummy from danger, then you can stay up and watch the long ranger." That should keep you motivated!
  • Control your appetite with more physical activity -- um, that would mean getting up from behind the computer occasionally.
  • Dilute your fruit juices -- my mom always did this.
  • Drink more water -- Water is the most consumed beverage in our household, so that's not really a problem for us. If you're not a huge fan, try putting a slice of citrus in your water. That will make it more palatable.
  • Avoid or control the consumption of excessive alcohol, due to its caloric content. As a reminder, some alcohol is not vegan (certain beers and wines, due to the manner in which it they are manufactured, are not vegan.)
  • Avoid or control the consumption of processed and junk food -- Well, we know that junk food is bad for you, it just tastes so damned good (until you wean yourself from it).

I would like to add another point:

  • Eschew animal products. Plant-based foods tend to cost less than animal-based foods, and tend to have fewer calories and fat too.

Don't get me wrong, you can certainly gain weight eating vegan, but if you eat a healthy vegan diet like we are, the weight can just fall off. And you can save money at the same time (unless you've been subsisting on happy meals or other junk foods). Eat food that is healthy and vegan. Weight loss happens almost without your trying. Talk about a win-win.

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Comments

  1. As a 10+ yr vegan, I recently cut out far more processed food, exercise almost every day, ride my bike instead of driving, increased the percentage of my daily calories that come from protein, and have replace most of my beer consumption with gin w/ diet tonic water (diet tonic water is nasty).

    Those aspects combined, I have lost 30lbs so far. The (sad) reality is that you can be a fat, out of shape vegan or any other diet.

  2. Ampersand Jones says:

    I also lost a good amount of weight just by going vegan. Just over 30 pounds. Now I’m working on eating better as a vegan and cutting out a lot of the “shortcut” vegan foods like chips and stuff.

  3. Hi Zebtron,
    Oh yes, Jane has taken to avoiding the SnapPea crisps while shopping. I think it was probably much harder to be a fat vegan 3o or 40 years ago. With the proliferation of vegan fast foods, I’m sure there’ll be more vegans battling the bulge!

    Hi Ampersand,
    Yup, it’s the shortcut foods that seem to be the most “dangerous” ones. Pretty soon we’ll be able to keep up with our omnivorous friends in poor health and poor habits.

  4. I do wish the vegan diet would do the same for me. I am not overweight but sit at the upper end of my BMI. I would love to lose ten pounds to maximize my health and well being. I think it would be a wonderful thing if you or Jane would blog your daily menu for a few days or maybe a week.

  5. Hahaha! I love the Bob Newhart anecdote! I’ll have to remember that advice.
    I’ve heard of the 32 chews things before – I wonder where that recommendation originally came from. In any case, it’s a really good one because it takes way longer to finish a smaller amount of food that way. For a while, I was setting a timer for 20 minutes during my meals, and I told myself that I could have a second serving but only if I waited until the timer went off. I almost NEVER wanted to go back for seconds – either because my brain satiety switch had kicked in, or I was just bored of waiting and wanted to go do something else. I really need to start that again because I’m convinced that it’s a foolproof, non-depriving method of really controlling your appetite, as long as you take a reasonable portion of food for your first serving.
    And nice addendum to the list – I wish more health/diet experts would start adding that one!

  6. Unfortunately the weight has fallen off for me too and I’m already thin as a rail. I’ve lost ten pounds in the last 3 months so it’s not too bad, but I really am very skinny. My wife on the other hand has been trying to lose weight for years and in two months of vegan eating hasn’t lost a pound. I told her she may have to resort to exercise if she really wants to :) Anyway, it’s been frustrating that we’re both moving in the wrong direction in regards to weight, but we’ll keep plugging along while trying to stay educated on good nutrition (vegan of course) and health.

  7. The best and easiest way I’ve ever heard of to lose weight is to give up soda. I wish I could remember where I saw this statistic, but it said that your average soda-drinking person could lose 10+ pounds in one year just by not drinking soda. Other than drinking ginger ale when I had the stomach flu, I can’t remember a time when soda was a part of my diet. I lost about 65 lbs. 6 years ago and have kept it off (all that weight wasn’t soda weight – I did exercise, too!). Great post today!

  8. I didn’t gain or lose weight as a vegan. I stayed the same. For me, I tend to lose weight only when it’s a conscious goal – when I deliberately eat less and exercise more.

    I’m not vegan for health reasons, I’m vegan for animal reasons, however, I care about my health. From what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced, a vegan diet is the healthiest. And I absolutely agree with most of those recommendations from a health standpoint, not a weight loss standpoint:
    – Diet pills are dangerous. Don’t use them.
    – Eat a hearty breakfast. It’s keeps you going the rest of the day.
    – Eat many small portions throughout the day. Graze.
    – Chew well. The better you chew, the more nutrients you’ll get from your food.
    – Exercise! It’s good for your heart, your lungs, your whole body.
    – Dilute juice. Stay away from soda. Drink more water.
    – Avoid junk food and processed food.
    – Eat only vegan foods.

    Weight loss is not the best measure of health, though for some people it’s one indication. And it’s true that vegans tend to be skinnier than nonvegans. Even the pudgy vegans tend to be lighter and healthier than their nonvegan counterparts.

  9. This is great…

    All of us vegans and animal rights activists need to work together to save lives, and change the world.

    From THE X-RATED GRANDMA

  10. New to Vegan eating here…Is it normal to loose 6 pounds in a week just eating vegan and not changing anything else? My weight is falling off (only about 10 pounds overweight) but I don’t want it to come off so rapidly. Slow and steady is what I like, but this is kind of scary.

  11. Beckie,
    How new to veganism are you?
    If just a week or two, then yes that is normal. That would be normal to lose that much weight anytime you change your diet (to any kind of diet, not just vegan) at first because it is mostly excess water you are losing, probably due to less sodium, sugar, or fat intake. If you continue to lose that much every single week for several weeks, then chances are you need to eat some more calorie dense foods, like nuts and tofu.
    Also, the female cycle can greatly affect water retention and release, so maybe you are at a time of the month when you are releasing more water as well.
    Hope this helps.

  12. Hi Sandy,
    That’s an interesting idea… but with the holiday weekend coming up, it’s not going to happen this week. I can tell you that we ALWAYS have a very large green salad with our dinner. I start my day with a smoothie. Jane’s been having quinoa and fruit lately. For lunch, it’s usually leftovers or a sandwich, plus a salad and fruit. Our dinners tend to be basic. By that I mean, Jane doesn’t usually make highly caloric foods. We don’t often have heavily sauced foods. Most of our meals are pretty basic, a tofu scramble and facon; a tofu and veggie stir fry; grilled portobello and grains; chana masala; our veggies are usually steamed or grilled/roasted. Dessert is usually fresh fruit. And Jane doesn’t eat after 8pm (if we’re home and don’t have company). There are some other great tips in the comments here. Hope that helps. If not, let us know and we’ll try and put together a post on the topic.

    Hi Lindsey,
    I never was able to make the 32 chews. Which makes my remembering that song ever more ridiculous. Jane loves the idea of the 20 minute timer for seconds.

    Hi Nate,
    Yeah, the weight fell off me, and Jane was pretty frustrated, especially since she eats about 2/3rds of what I do and we’re practically the same height. I’m not a nutritionist, and I don’t know what you’re eating, but you can add a few healthy, calorie-intensive foods to your diet. Add a handful of nuts here and there, and maybe some vegan junk food (in moderation). If your wife is trying to lose weight, you can have those as snacks at work so she isn’t tempted.
    For your wife, exercise is a great way to step up your metabolism… But do as I say, not as I do in regard to that one! There are some other great tips in the comments here.

    Hi Jennifer,
    Wow, congratulations! 65 pounds, and you’ve kept it off. WTG! We hardly drink any soda here… mostly water and iced tea, so that tip isn’t going to help us, but it sounds like a few of our readers might benefit from that.

    Hi Elaine,
    I absolutely agree with you that weight loss is not a measure of health… look at all those folks losing shloads of weight on Atkins! I also believe that a lot of the initial weight loss when converting to a vegan diet might actually be related to a persons overall weight. I needed to lose about 25 pounds. I lost 20 effortlessly, but the last few pounds would require additional efforts on my part. One day I’ll get up from the computer.

    Hi Grandma,
    Agreed.

    Hi Beckie,
    Lindsey got her answer out to you before I did… but yes, what she said. You might also want to visit a nutritionist or do some reading up on vegan nutrition (we’ve got some helpful links on our Vegan Resources Page. It’s possible that in your switch to vegan eating you might not be getting enough calories. (Something you probably never thought you had to worry about, eh? :-) )

    Hi Lindsey,
    Thanks for that comprehensive response. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

  13. Add me to the list of weight-losers. Fifty pounds since late January. I’ve got about another fifty to go and I figure that will be gone by the end of the year. (And since I already lost fifty pounds (though it took me four times as long) before switching from veg to vegan, by the time I am done I will have cut my total body weight in half.)

    Sparrow

  14. Hi Sparrow,
    Congrats! That’s phenomenal!!! We wish you the best of luck in achieving your goal.

  15. Thank you for featuring my post! I appreciate the discussion here about this. I am trying to lose 30 pounds myself. So far I am only able to achieve a 2 lb a month loss. But I’m crossing my fingers that I get there eventually!

  16. Hi Digerati,
    We enjoyed your post. As for the 2 lbs/month. That may be a tad on the slow side, but studies have proven that a slow and steady weight loss is more likely to result in permanent weight loss. So there’s your silver lining. Good luck attaining your goal.

  17. I’ve been vegan for about a week & have already lost maybe two pounds, I’m not 100% on how much I’ve lost because I have a faulty scale, but I must’ve lost some. I’ve gone from vegetarian to vegan. Of course, the driving force behind coverting was the animals, but I don’t mind the weight loss! I’m walking an hour a day & I think I’m going to increse my intake of plain old fruits & veggies. I can’t wait to make a tofu stir-fry, they’re soooo yummy.

    Don’t eat a cow man!

  18. Hi Samantha,
    Congrats on the weight loss.
    We often have tofu-stir fry. We buy a ton of produce at the farmers market, and closer to the end of the week, when we’ve still got things hanging around and Jane has either changed her mind or forgotten about what she’d planned to make, it all gets chopped up and into the wok-like pan, some spices and tofu and voila… dinner is served.
    Also, Jane cuts up a ton of fruit and keeps it on hand in the fridge. We eat more fruit that way than simply keeping it whole in the drawer or on the counter.

  19. I am a fat vegan; but I started my vegan journey heavy and rebellious as well. The biggest issue in my home has cooked foods and not enough raw. We do eat out a lot too, more so now than ever before.

    So I am adding more raw, walking daily anywhere from 1 to 3 miles, and adding more fruit to daily diet. Another thing that I am trying to do is cook dinner for breakfast and eat lighter meals the rest of the day.

  20. Hi LaTara,
    Sounds like you’re moving in the right direction… better health. Good luck attaining your goals!

  21. Great article. It is amazing how easy it is to maintain proper weight and health just by eating a plant based diet!

    James Reno
    Raw-Food-Repair

  22. Hi all, I am a vegan, and lost about 20 pounds in 2-3 months, simply by following this chart I found in the book The Vegetarian Female. It is around 1800 calories:
    Every day consume the following:

    Whole Grains: 5 servings
    Low-Fat Meat substitutes: 3 servings
    Beans and/or legumes: 2 servings
    Nuts: 1 serving
    Fruits: 5 servings
    Vegetables: 5 servings

    The weight came off pretty effortlessly, I was eating quite healthy, and occasionally I indulged in some Soy Dream or Rice Dream ice cream, just watched my portion sizes. I still loosely follow this plan to this day

  23. I just started a mostly vegan diet about a month ago. I have lost 7 lbs, so I am really excited. I hope I can continue to lose weight. One pound a week would be great! :)

  24. I am at 7wks. At age 40, with no exercise program, I have lost some (no scale) and my clothes are almost one size down…but I strongly urge no white flour/sugar carb foods. These have prevented a faster loss for me…just white pasta lo mein and pbj a few times a week was a problem. This week I stocked up on more variety of beans/grains and am doing a “cook up” day once a week, to have stuff in the fridge and ready to go. Whole nuts in lieu of butters, and no carbonation at all. I read the book “Skinny Bi**h” last weekend, and it really helped me refine my vegan lifestyle, while driving home the horrors of the food industry. I am getting new sneakers Saturday, and my dog and my 4 yr old and I are starting a walking program. It is a must to get fitness into our lives, for longevity. 60 yr old women and men run marathons! Let’s be beautiful poster children for the vegan cause! Good luck!

  25. Also remember that your body burns off the dangerous fats around your organs first, because it knows what it is doing! A doctor told me that, and a chiro agreed wholeheartedly that is where the 1st real fat loss happens. Then top-down, usually. My head feels so trim…ha ha j/k! But my wrists, collarbones and face showed the changes right away. (Just an afterthought)

  26. Here is the 2nd time i have come across your blog within the last few few weeks. Appears like I should take note of it.

  27. I have been vegan for about four months now. Not that this is my first go at it, but due to food allergies I am now stuck… Anyways I have found that my legs are getting thin very quickly, but I am still flabby in the arms and midsection. The “solution” I was given for this problem was to cut carbs and all sugar. This seems completely unreasonable. Any other ideas. I am also quite active, so I do not think it is a need to exersize.

  28. Lift weights, Keli. Muscle will bulk up your legs in a shapely way and redefine your arms. The same with the midsection, though if you have kids, that might be a little trickier. Sometimes “flab” is actually what got stretched with childbirth. Still, core building exercises will really help that area. Cutting processed foods does help with extra flab, but that is not the same as cutting ALL carbs. Unprocessed carbs like brown rice, whole grains, etc… are good for you in normal portion sizes. As for sugar? Well, if you are eating a LOT of it, then, yes, you need to cut back. But, I would start with lifting some weights. You can do it at home, you don’t necessarily need a gym, and the library should have books on the subject. Best of luck.

  29. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to checking out your web page yet again.

  30. Hi… I am a young 70 year old, and my daughter who is a vegan is the one that has started me in doing this. I have a anurism in my aorta and this is why I am trying this vegan thing.. well actully I think I am vegetarian.. cause I have eaten some eggs and cheese. I am trying to reverse the anurism, so when I go to the doctor again in about 4 more months it will be gone… (thank you Jesus in advance} I seem to be loosing weight, lost 4 pounds… but then turned around and gained the 4 pounds back again. I also have a thyroid condition, and I retain alot of fluid mostly in my feet and legs.. also my tummy. I dont know what I am doing wrong as to why I keep going up and down in my weight. Any advice from anyone would be greatly appreciated. Just because I am 70… doesnt mean I dont want that girlish figure back again…. I may be old… but I am not dead… :) I believe a person is never too old to improve themselfs… waiting for advise.. until then MAY GOD BLESS EVERYONE THAT IS READING THIS… AND MAY THE LORD ALWAYS WALK BY YOUR SIDE. Sylvia

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